Thursday, July 18, 2013

IFTTT: Instagram Hashtag Creates a Photo Blog Post

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a web service that links various disparate accounts - email, social media, storage, etc - and allows you to create automated actions if a defined event occurs. That is the worst description of IFTTT ever. Whatever. The front page of the IFTTT site says 'put the internet to work for you.' That's a way better description.

This post was inspired by a slam I saw Jeff Heil do at the California Google Apps for Education summit this past weekend. Jeff showed how he had created an IFTTT trigger for when he publishes a picture to Instagram with a certain hashtag, that picture will automatically get uploaded to a photo blog that he maintains.

This IFTTT recipe immediately got me thinking about a field trip I went on last year. The teachers asked the students to use a hashtag in Instagram photos as a way of getting everyone access to the pictures everyone took that day. It worked really well. So could those photos be stored forever somewhere - photos from any number of Instagram users - not just one like in Jeff's recipe? Like on a house blog? The answer: yes. How? Come along for the ride!

Step one: head to IFTTT and create an account. Then, create a new trigger.

Next, click on the giant blue 'this.'

You need to choose your trigger - the action that will prompt another action - next. There are a lot of choices in the trigger page. Find the Instagram icon and click that.

At this point, if you haven't used IFTTT before - or if you haven't used the Instagram trigger on IFTTT before - you'll need to link your account to IFTTT. Do that. 

You'll then have to choose what action you want IFTTT to look for in Instagram. You want it to look for a hashtag from any user.

There were ten choices of possible Instagram triggers associated with my account - you're going for 'new photo by anyone tagged.' Why IFTTT calls it tagged and not hashtagged is beyond me. Moving on.

Now choose an Instagram hashtag that you will share with your students. This is the hashtag that, if added to any Instagram photo by any user, will publish that photo to your website. PRO TIP: Go to Gramfeed and make sure that you have created a unique hashtag that isn't being used by other people - you don't want some random's pictures showing up on your website!

Click 'Create Trigger' and you're set. With the 'This' part of IFTTT. Next, choose the action your trigger will perform. Click on the giant blue 'that' and choose the action. After this, you'll be confronted with a bunch of choices again. You could have these hashtagged photos go to a Blogger, Tumblr, or Wordpress blog. Your choice.

I used Blogger and will walk you through those steps. After clicking on Blogger, you'll need to connect your account. PRO TIP: Create your new blog first before you get to this point, otherwise the blog you want photos to publish to won't show up. You want to create a new photo post.

Next, you need to format what your photo post will look like on your blog. Complete this screen to your liking to make this happen.

Then, click 'Create Action.' Then, on the next page - a review of your recipe - click 'Create Action' and you're good to go! I'm looking forward to what gets shared this year by my students - I think it will be a pretty cool way to hold onto memories from our year!

Just a note: this trigger won't work on old photos on Instagram - only new photos with the hashtag will trigger the recipe to run.

Happy photo-publishing!